2013 Projects – Books on the Go

lame clipart!  it was free

The best of the lame clip art available for the project.

The biggest project (beside graduating) that I’ve tackled this year was was the revamping of Troy’s Books on the Go book group kits.  Of the previous twenty-odd kits, many had gone missing or were no longer circulating.  The bags were in disarray, and it was generally an underused collection.  When my boss asked me to select some new titles for consideration, it was simply exploratory; I did not expect it to turn out to be such a massive undertaking.

My first steps were to discover what local book clubs, and groups around the country, would be reading the coming year.  I gathered my titles and narrowed it down to about 20 items, sending it off to my boss for her perusal.  I was surprised when she told me she wasn’t going to make any changes, and even more surprised when I was informed to start ordering them!

Hours of time later, I realized that not all 20 items would be possible to get in an affordable fashion.  A decision was made to get things available in paperback only.  I made a few substitutions and ended up with 16 titles from the original twenty, with two titles that we would source from copies we already held.

My boss suggested new bags, which I was more than happy to track down, as the small tote bags from past kits were dingy and looking pretty bad.  By the end of the day I had sent her a list of options, and within a week or two, we had approval to order them  We ended up with these great zipped canvas tote bags that are really going to hold up to a bag of 12 or more books!

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The hardest thing about this project was putting everything together.  The display needed to be set up with a binder of book summaries and discussion questions, processing needed to happen both in Tech Services, and then more on my end.  Barcodes needed to be added to the bags, discussion questions needed to be laminated and added, displays needed setting up.  It took at least two shifts for everything to come together.  Much to my surprise, 7 of the kits already had holds on them!

For those curious, here is a link to the list of the books/binder cover.

I’m really looking forward to getting feedback on this project from patrons, and I hope these kits will hold up over the next few years.

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Book Review: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was an emotional read.  It was one of those books that sucked me in from the start; I devoted an entire day to read the book from start to finish.  Victoria Jones, the protagonist, elicited instant feelings from me.  Victoria starts the novel fresh out of an intensely painful experience in the foster care system.  She is broke and angry, the only thing she cares about are flowers and their meanings.  The language of flowers is the only way she seems to be able to communicate with the world; it is the one bright spot in her past. As the story progresses it alternates between glimpses into Victoria’s past life, as well as her current, leading up to the collision of the two.  And it is an powerful collision that left me in tears, left me feeling wrung out, and ultimately thrilled. 

We see Victoria rebuild her life, or perhaps just build her life.  She succeeds, but she fights for her survival/success.  It’s not a pretty fight, and as I reader I was torn between being sympathetic toward her and being angry.  It is more than just rebuilding her life as well, she learns to take care of herself.  This theme that rang very true to me, because (while in a drastically different situation) I have learned to take care of myself, and I know how difficult that is to do. 

Ultimately, I would highly recommend this book.  Especially if you like to read stories that don’t have a clear happy ending, but end with happily ever after coming around the corner.  Or, if you really enjoy an intense emotional read. 

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****SPOILERS*****

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Book Review: The Children’s Book by AS Byatt

I tend to read quickly, and if I sit down with a book the size of The Children’s Book (provided I don’t have classes or work) I can finish it in two to three days.  I had the time to do that, but I ended up taking a month to read this book.  I had to read little snips and pieces at a time, a chapter here or there.  There were so many stories and little plots going through it that I found myself taking notes, just to keep track of my thoughts.

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, The Children’s Book follows a family and their friends through their lives leading up to the first World War.  It starts with a child living in the basement of a museum, and he is brought into the world of what feels like hundreds of strange characters.  A author of fairy tales and her family, with its many children and skeletons in the closet, an eccentric potter with a drug addicted wife and two blank children, various anarchists, socialists,  British bankers…the list goes on, until you become hopelessly confused as to who is who and what plot they are wrapped up with.  There seems to be no unifying plot to the novel, it wanders into one plotline to another.  As a reader, I was never satisfied, never given enough from the characters I liked most.

It was well written, gorgeously so, but that didn’t save it from dragging or being bogged down in the details.  I feel that if I did not have the strange background that I do in history and useless knowledge I would have needed to look up half of the references to the organizations and politics in the novel.  For example the main characters mostly come from a family of Theosophists, and if you don’t know the Theosophists, a lot of little nuances are lost.  Those little nuances make the book 100% easier to read.  Brush up on your Marxism and Anarchist history as well, if you want to make the most out of the history in this book.

Ultimately, I did enjoy reading The Children’s Book.  I loved and hated it by turns, but that kept it interesting for me.  However, I wouldn’t recommend it to a stranger.  Actually, I’d only recommend it if I had extensive knowledge of your reading tastes and your research and google skills/educational background.

So, if …this mangled review didn’t scare you away:

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Book Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Book Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

I was not sure what to expect when I picked this book up. The premise is fascinating; a young girl finds herself with the horrible ability to taste the emotions of the person preparing her food. She learns far more than a nine year old should ever need to cope with. Her mother’s fears and insecurities, her father’s distraction, her brother’s constant annoyance and growing distance, and down to the people who picked and packaged the ingredients.

As she grows up the talent does not go away, and her family life gets more complex. Her brother, a genius, becomes more and more withdrawn, until he simply just is not there anymore.

Anything more travels into spoilers. This book is bizarre, emotional, and oddly compelling. When I reached the last page, I felt achy and hopeful by turns. Yet, I do not know if I enjoyed it. It did not ever feel as if the story was ever over, or as if the story ever really went far. The question I’m dealing with is, “Does a story need to go far to be good?”

I do not have an answer for that one yet. But I do suggest checking this book out.

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